Middle East

Humanitarian officials urge for de-escalation in Rafah, reopening of border crossings

From CNN's Abeer Salman and Richard Roth

Aid agencies are warning any escalation in Rafah risks exacerbating the already deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

Officials from UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, and the Palestine Red Crescent Society all voiced concerns that hostilities were increasing at the same time as a squeeze on the entry of aid into the enclave.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) called for border crossings to be opened to allow more aid in.

“The ongoing closure of crossings by the Israeli occupation forces, especially the vital Rafah crossing – which is the main artery supply to the entire Gaza Strip – prevents the entry of humanitarian aid, including food, medicine, as well as fuel, and poses an imminent humanitarian and health disaster,” the PRCS said in a statement.

UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Adele Khodr, echoed those concerns.

“Civilians – already exhausted, malnourished, and facing numerous traumatic events – are now facing increased death, injury, and displacement among the ruins of their communities,” Khodr said.

“The very humanitarian operations that became the only lifeline for the whole population across the Strip are threatened,” she continued.

“Major hospitals in the north within evacuation zones, including Kamal Adwan, Al Awda, and the Indonesian Hospital, find themselves in the crossfire, which severely disrupts the delivery of critical medical supplies and puts numerous lives at risk. Those at imminent risk of famine are now cut off from any help,” Khodr added.

Doctors without Borders (MSF) said they had to stop providing care at the Indonesian Field Hospital in Rafah due to the Israeli offensive.

“We have had to leave 12 different health structures and have endured 26 violent incidents, which include airstrikes damaging hospitals, tanks being fired at agreed deconflicted shelters, ground offensives into medical centers, and convoys fired upon,” said Michel-Olivier Lacharité, MSF head of emergency operations.

MSF have resumed operations at Nasser hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, with a focus on orthopedic surgery, burn care, and occupational therapy. MSF staff fled Nasser hospital in mid-February as Israeli forces ordered evacuation ahead of raiding the facility, the organization said.

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